Published: July 15, 2004
Ever since he was knocked out by James ‘Buster’ Douglas 14 and a half years ago, we’ve been teased and tormented with promises of the real/old Mike Tyson resurfacing in the gym. But, if that has ever been true, it is in the gym the real/old (young?) Tyson has remained.
Now, aged 38 and with less than 60 seconds of work in over two years, we are once again been titillated by claims that Iron Mike has recaptured the magic ahead of his July 30 10 rounder with Danny Williams in Louisville, Kentucky. No-one believes it, of course, but Tyson doesn’t need magic to win back a version or two of the world title in 2004.
Tyson’s trainer, Freddie Roach, isn’t promising the Tyson of yesteryear, just a better one than we saw last year. Roach trained the former two-time world heavyweight champion for the Clifford Etienne in February 2003, and says Iron Mike is already in better shape than he was for his last fight.
The LA based box-guru said: “Mike has been training for three months. In his first day of training with me he was in better shape than he was for the actual fight with Etienne. There’s a huge change in attitude from last time. He hit rock bottom last time and I think he’s learned to be at peace with himself.”
Roach said: “I do think the money issues he has are a big part of (his motivation) to come back. Yesterday he told me he was sick of training, he was ready for the fight already and that he wanted the day off, but I wouldn’t let him. I’m getting to know him better and better so I know which buttons to press to motivate him. I can usually get him to feel guilty to make him train; we have good or bad days. When he’s lazy I’ll push him hard, when he’s had a good hard run I’ll take it easy on him.
“Sometimes he gets down when he doesn’t do so well in sparring, if his timing isn’t there. But his power is still there – he has the most pop in the division – and also he’s still got the most speed in the heavyweight division.”
The Eddie Futch disciple went on: “Mike’ll be coming in around 230lbs, he’s getting bigger as he gets older and is doing work with weights. I don’t really agree with that but he feels that he’s getting stronger off that. Any weight under 230lbs I’ll be happy with. He’s 230lbs right now and he looks in good shape.”Most Americans don’t really know too much about Englander Williams but, of course, Roach has done his homework. “I’ve watched four of Danny Williams’s recent fights and he’s a good fighter. One of my assistant trainers, Justin Fortune, used to spar with Williams, too, so we got a good inside line on him. Williams is a physical fighter, he can hit low and throw an elbow. He’s got some power, too, so we can’t just go in there and bombs away. I see Williams’s weaknesses and his strengths so we will break Williams down before we take him out. We know what he can be hit with and Mike and myself are looking to go in behind the jab, work the body.
“It could go one round, though. We won’t (carry) Williams just to get rounds; we need rounds, but we will get them by fighting often. After this fight we’d like to fight Vassili Jirov, he’s a tough guy and I’d like Mike to fight him. After that there are a lot of big fights out there for Mike: James Toney, Vitali Klitschko, Antonio Tarver, Roy Jones, Evander Holyfield.”
Earlier in the week Williams pegged Tyson’s current effectiveness at around 40% of what he was when he dominated the division in the late 1980s. Roach doesn’t disagree with that assessment, commenting: “Mike’s probably 50% of what he was when he was 20 years old. We all get old. Maybe we can get him to 60% by the Williams fight and then we’ll see for the next fight. Mike will get better and better if we keep in the gym. We can’t get Mike to be 20 years old again, but there are things we can try and get him to do what he used to do.”
By Anthony Evans